Friday, July 2, 2021

7 Days, 7 Books, Day 5. How to Catch a Clover Thief by Elise Parsley

 Today's books are those that pack a surprise in story or structure, which as a reader and writer I find absolutely delightful. These are books that show children how to think outside the box and enjoy the unexpected and then reflect on the path that brought them there.

How to Catch a Clover Thief is written and illustrated by Elise Parsley, and the first lines of this story show it isn't going to follow the typical "How to" structure.  Instead, readers are presented with a scene, a character, and what he wants, while the antagonist watches from the background with a book in hand.

The stems were tall. The leaves were large. Roy couldn't believe his luck--all this clover patch needed were those sweet white blossoms and then he could gobble up his favorite snack. They were nearly ready. He just needed to be patient. 

But as it turns out, being patient is not all Roy needs to do. Roy needs to find a way to outwit the clever rodent named Jarvis. This science teacher's heart soared with the final illustrations and path the story took, because it landed ingeniously and humorously in the lap of STEAM. And interestingly, young readers might go back and see where application of the scientific method lurked in the details all along. This book definitely ought to find its way into every child's hands. 

Turtle in a Tree written and illustrated by Neesha Hudson offers a fun read aloud with two characters who each see something different in a tree and each insist that they are right and the other is wrong. Of course, the twist at the end is clever, satisfying, and funny. Although this story doesn't wave the STEM flag from its cover, it can provide an interesting and unique tool for discussing the process of scientific inquiry and debate in the classroom. But aside from my own educational interests as an educator, Turtle in a Tree is simply plain fun and won't disappoint.

The Safe Return, written by Ashley Wheelock and Arwen Evans and illustrated by Abigail Gray Swartz, offers a surprise in the structure of the book, which in and of itself is STEAM-based in that it offers children an alternative way that a book can be created and enjoyed. The Safe Return offers the same story but illustrated from two different perspectives. Each story is read separately, with the first being read from the front cover and moving toward the middle of the book, and the second being read by flipping the book over and reading forward from the back cover. 

I imagine children will compare each story version and pick out the differences and the reason for the change. I also believe this book is a timely celebration of our world experience. It offers comfort and hope as we begin to shift back to a new normal after going through a pandemic.

With the U.S. holiday weekend of July 4th upon us, I'll pick up with the final two days of book recommendations on July 6th. 


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